Colts coach Frank Reich, after reaching out to retired quarterback Philip Rivers, will start rookie Sam Ehlinger against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday if veteran Carson Wentz is not cleared to play.
Wentz was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday after testing positive. He originally was supposed to miss 10 days for being unvaccinated and testing positive, but the NFL and NFLPA on Tuesday adopted new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would reduce the quarantine time to five days.
“If [Wentz] clears his fifth day, that would be Sunday, and in theory he would be available for the game if he clears,” Reich said. “He will be in meetings virtual, so if he does clear, he can play. At this point, Sam is our starter. I’m excited for Sam.”
Colts put unvaccinated QB Wentz on COVID list
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The new NFL guidelines allowed the Colts to activate starting cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, left guard Quenton Nelson and right guard Mark Glowinski from the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.
On Thursday, the Colts activated LB Darius Leonard, WR Zach Pascal and S Khari Willis from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
If Wentz becomes symptom-free, the Colts’ medical and training staff will give him a workout program to do at home because he is not allowed in the team’s facility during this five-day stretch.
Reich said he reached out to the 40-year-old Rivers, who helped lead the Colts to an 11-5 record and the playoffs in 2020. Rivers retired at the end of that season to coach high school football in Alabama.
“You guys know I’m close to him,” Reich said. “We talked all year long. Did talk to him fairly recently. He was on vacation with his family. I have talked to him about our situation here, but nothing to report and no other further comment at this point.”
Ehlinger, a sixth-round pick who has yet to attempt a pass in a regular-season game, was the Colts’ third quarterback behind Wentz and Jacob Eason. He missed the start of the regular season after suffering a knee injury in a preseason game but returned to the team as the backup in October, when Eason was waived.
“I think Sam is made for moments like this,” Reich said. “He has that special it factor. Has really good quarterback skills, has continued to improve. Excited about the opportunity this week to prepare, and we’ll see how the week plays out.”
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